My son has autism, and ABA is helping
I haven't shared any updates with our listener family since I wrote this piece back in March about finding out my son has autism. It was a long and frustrating road for my wife Aubree and me, with one expert after another insisting Atticus was not on the spectrum. Once we had the official diagnosis we were able to start getting him help.
ABA therapy has been going on for just a couple months. Just the process of finding the right place, dealing with insurance, meeting with the center, their evaluation and pairing him with the proper therapist all took awhile. We went with The Uncommon Thread and couldn't be more pleased. His therapist Lori-Ann is amazing and very caring. She's already become like part of our family.
When he started therapy at 2 years and 8 months old, he still wasn't drinking from an open cup but rather using a sippy. He had been growing increasingly frustrated with not being able to communicate his desires. His eye contact had all but stopped. His affection was on the wane. When we'd take him to a store or on a walk all he'd want to do was run. Trying to get him to walk calmly by our side seemed impossible no matter what we tried.
Two months later he's drinking from an open cup with no problems. He's much calmer and while still not very verbal has found ways to communicate in the meantime that will serve as a bridge until he's talking more. Speaking of which, he's now going to a speech therapist who specializes in children with autism and on just his second visit there he said ten words in 45 minutes, five of which he had never said before. Amazing. His eye contact is so much better. He walks calmly and confidently beside us when we go out. He's developing patience and skills he didn't know he had. He's becoming quite the affectionate little cuddle bug, too.
And the most amazing part of this update, the thing I really wanted to share with you...
In the middle of the show Monday I received a text from my wife. They say you can't tell tone from a text, but this one I could. It was teary-eyed. Happy tears. She wrote to tell me she was putting Atti down for a nap and told him she loved him. He looked her straight in the eyes, gave her a big hug, and for the first time ever said the words, "Love you Momma."
When you have a neurotypical child, this is no big deal. You've probably been hearing it from them at much younger ages. You tend to almost take it for granted. I know, because my other three children, two older and one younger, are neurotypical. When you're the parent of a little autism warrior, your heart soars on the little things. You take nothing for granted. You see them in a way that celebrates life itself and it makes you a better person. Is it exhausting? Oh yes. But it's also beautiful.
We look forward to every day with our warrior and to what he'll become. To all the warrior parents out there who wrote me when we shared the news in March, thank you for your kind words, encouragement and wisdom. Please know Aubree and I have nothing but love in our hearts and good vibes in return for each and every one of you.
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